Food is a medicine and healthy food choices are a key ingredient in caring for patients. Information technology staff and food and nutrition leaders use a software program that helps ensure patients get the food they need and want.
Since 2010, food service leaders within the Nova Scotia health care system have worked together to implement a provincial software program (Vision) to support food management and delivery. This technology supports Food and Nutrition Service Departments to manage inventory, recipes, menu options, food production, diet codes and allergy lists. Health care facilities across Nova Scotia Health Authority use this technology.
With a computerized program now in place, food services is directly connected to the computerized patient management system. Patients' diet order information flow directly into the food services software. This reduces manual processes, provides better management of food allergies and increases patient safety.
Enhanced Patient Experience
The software solution supports the delivery of patient-centred care by providing patients with a wide variety of healthy food choices that can be ordered either through bedside dial-for-dining (Room Service Module), spoken menus or layered menus (where patients can select menu options). The software also has the capability to provide a standard menu rotation that automatically creates meals based on patient preferences and dietary requirements. Patients are more inclined to eat what they’ve ordered, helping to ensure that they receive the nourishment needed to positively affect their health and recovery. Food and nutrition staff make every effort to source seasonal, local food and in-house production often includes homemade food items made from scratch.
Enhanced patient safety
Many patients have specific therapeutic nutritional requirements, including life threatening food allergies. The food and nutrition software is connected to hospital information systems. This integration allows patient information to flow in real time and flag anything that isn’t appropriate based on patient dietary requirements. The software may also automatically choose new items based on patient preferences.
Enhanced Resource Management
The software supports food and nutrition service operations, from purchasing food to delivering meals to patients. It integrates business and health information systems to support decision making. Within the province, the software provides tallies of foods produced that allows for better forecasting for food production, leading to improved efficiency and less waste. In the past, almost 50 per cent of patient food would be returned and end up in the garbage. Since the introduction of the food and nutrition system, food waste has decreased by at least 50 per cent, and food cost has been cut through use of an enhanced inventory system.